The FINANCIAL — European Parliament adopted on February 2 the proposal on visa liberalization for Georgia, enabling the biometric passport holders to enter the Schengen area for 90 days within any 180-day period for a holiday, business or any other purpose, except working.
The proposal was approved with 553 votes in favor, 66 against and 28 abstentions, according to Civil.ge.
Parliament and Council negotiators reached an agreement on the legislation on December 13. According to the agreement, the visa free regime will be enforced for Georgian citizens simultaneously with the visa suspension mechanism, which allows EU member states to temporarily reintroduce visa requirements for reasons of public security.
The legislation will now be submitted to the Council for its approval.
“Today is a day of historical significance for Georgia,” Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili said in a statement issued before the plenary vote.
“Indeed, today marks Georgia’s great success! Today’s decision will prove that Georgia’s policy on drawing closer to the European Union brings tangible results for every Georgian citizen. We are convinced that our citizens will show exceptional responsibility in accepting this milestone result and achievement, and will scrupulously observe the laws of host countries,” Kvirikashvili said.
The EU-Georgia Visa Liberalization Dialogue was launched in June 2012. In February 2013, the European Commission presented the Georgian Government with an action plan on visa liberalization (VLAP). The Commission committed itself to proposing visa-free travel for short stays in the European Union to Georgian nationals holding biometric passports as soon as all the benchmarks set in the VLAP have been met by the Georgian Government.
Since the launch of the EU-Georgia Visa Liberalization Dialogue, the Commission has reported to the European Parliament and the Council on Georgia’s progress towards fulfilling the VLAP benchmarks identified.
In its fourth and final progress report, adopted on December 18, 2015, the Commission considered that Georgia had made the necessary progress and had undertaken all the required reforms to ensure the effective and sustainable achievement of the remaining benchmarks. Based on this assessment, the Commission confirmed that Georgia had met all the benchmarks set for each of the VLAP’s benchmarks and that it would present, in early 2016, a legislative proposal to amend Regulation (EC) No 539/2001, transferring Georgia to the list of visa-free countries.